'This play doesn't judge'

Set in a middle-class Chennai, Free Outgoing directed by Mahesh Dattani is a global story about the hypocrisy set deep in our society and its inability to handle the subject of female sensuality

With Whatsapp and Snapchat becoming the latest muse for Generation Next, playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar’s Free Outgoing might be perfectly timed. Directed by Mahesh Dattani, the play addresses issues like widespread addiction to technology and the media circus around the slightest mention of female sexuality in our society. “When I first wrote the play in 2005-2006, the Delhi Public School MMS incident was one of the key triggers for the story. The media was much younger then. It was a time when cell phones, SMS and MMS were just coming into our lives, a world before Facebook and before the times of Arnab Goswami,” Chandrasekhar explains.

A scene from the play, Free Outgoing

When the play premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2007, Indhu Rubasingham had directed it. A few changes were also made to the script so that it remained abreast with the gadgets, technology and troubles of today.

The 100-minute play, produced by Crea-Shakthi, is set in a middle class household in Chennai and revolves around Malini, a single mother who dotes on her young daughter Deepa and her son. Deepa gets filmed being intimate with a boy from school and life changes overnight for Malini and her family.

“Mahesh and Indhu have completely different styles of direction. While Indhu wanted ultra-realism; the sets, the characters were typical of a middle-class setting in Chennai. Mahesh is representational and believes in metaphors,” Chandrasekhar points out.

“The human conflict attracted me to it. Protagonist Deepa’s character is never on stage. She is represented by a shadow in the room. We chose to focus on the impact on the character’s family and society instead of the actual incident,” reveals Mahesh Dattani, the play’s director.

The play was a finalist for the Whiting Award in the UK and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in the US. It was the first play to be written by an Indian that was nominated for these awards. The show opened at the Ranga Shankara theatre in Bengaluru on January 30. It is now set to wow audiences in Mumbai as part of the ongoing NCPA Select Festival.  The subject of the play is such that it becomes a point of conversation wherever it is staged. It is set in Chennai, in a specific setting but the issues it deals with are universal. It doesn’t judge. I’m sure Mumbai will respond in various ways to this very human story,” believes Dattani.

On: Today, 7 pm onwards
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point. 
Call: 22824567
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